This episode made me really happy, like "I can't stop smiling because I'm glad that they're glad" happy.
We're almost halfway through, and the character development that I've talked about extensively in my last two posts has started to kick in. The episode started with Yuki, Haru, and Natsuki having a casual conversation and that in and of itself was enough to put a smile on my face. While Haru pretty much forced his way into Yuki's life by being his quirky self, Natsuki has become a member of the group in a more subtle way, especially since he didn't want anything to do with them in the first place. He even tries to cover for Yuki later in the episode, since he now knows the real person behind the "angry" face.
However, Yuki is still the one who has the farthest to go. While he made great strides in this episode, I don't think his character growth is done just yet. He still loses his cool at any hint of confrontation or having to deal with people that he doesn't know. Working on the boat went a long ways in terms of getting his confidence up, but after this point we'll have to see if it sticks when he has to deal with something bigger than breaking a net.
The only one doesn't really seem to have started their character arc is Akira, who still insists that he doesn't need friends despite stalking the group for several days on the boat. I don't think he'll be able to hold out for much longer though, since the fishing obsession got him as well this week. The way he says "FISH" was (unintentionally?) absolutely hilarious to me, as was Natsuki's reaction. Whether he likes it or not, Akira is having fun. I'm interested in seeing if that conflicts with his job as we get into the second half of the show.
But despite the joy in watching the established character development pay off, the episode had the feel of the calm before the storm. Like I mentioned above, Yuki's progress means nothing if it doesn't survive a trial. I feel like the show is building him up (as well as Natsuki and Haru) only to tear him down. If this happens, it would be great from a storyline perspective--we're nearly halfway through and some of the core questions haven't even been addressed--but I've grown so attached to these characters that I don't want to see them sad. Especially after this episode. Look at that smile. Why would I want that to go away after he worked so hard?
Well, I guess there's no reason to get worked up about something that hasn't even happened yet. Regardless of where this show goes, I'm on board with it. It seems like some hints are being dropped about the direction this show will take though; early on in a scene with Akira, the Bermuda Triangle was mentioned. This might end up being more relevant than it first appears, as Mira points out in her post on this episode. I definitely recommend that my viewers read that, since it points out some very probable influences on the show that I wasn't aware of before. I'm starting to think that this is the kind of show that has a lot of hidden meaning that will only become obvious on multiple viewings. But regardless of whether this show might be hiding something OMG DEEP or not, so far I love this series for making it easy to get caught up in it's characters. I'll probably get in trouble at some point this season for overusing the word "rare," but there aren't many shows that I can say when the characters smiled, I smiled back. Now I just hope that the plot won't be too rough on them from here on out. Images from Crunchyroll.com.